Until late last year, consumers generally had to pay around $20 to see their credit score, the magical, three-digit number that often determines their financial fate. But some card companies are now offering customers access to their scores at no charge, a practice that regulators, along with consumer advocates, hope will become more widespread.

In late February, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it has "strongly encouraged" other large card issuers to follow the lead of Discover Financial Services and the U.S. card division of Barclays, which have been providing free credit score information for the past few months. Almost immediately after the bureau's pronouncement, Capital One Financial said that it would start volunteering credit scores by mid-March. American Express is also looking into providing credit scores. "We are definitely very open to this," says spokeswoman Sravanthi Agrawal.

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